7 Great New Albums By Career Artists

I am sorry my posts have been few and far between since reaching Australia.   This really has more to do with the fact that I left my computer behind more than anything.  I couldn’t justify traveling to the other side of the globe with it when I am only in country for 10 days.  Writing on one’s phone isn’t quite as appealing. 

I spent the afternoon walking around Brisbane exploring the city and taking pictures.  One of the albums I listened to was Weezer’s newest.  It struck me that not only have a bunch of great artists that have been around 20 or more years released albums this year, but that many have released records showing that they are still at the top of their game.  It has been a really great year for music so far.  Here are some records that came out this year that any music fan should own.   Also, if you are a fan of any of the following artists, but lost track somewhere along the way, I believe all of these records belong in a best of for each artist (In no particular order):

1.  Morrissey:  World Peace is None of Your Business

2.  Jackson Browne:  Standing in the Breach

3.  Marianne Faithfull:  Give My Love to London

4.  Leonard Cohen:  Popular Problems

5.  Bryan Ferry:  Avonmore

6.  U2:  Songs of Innocence

7.  Weezer:  Everything Will Be Alright in the End

Morrissey and Leonard Cohen have really never been in artistic decline.  Marianne Faithfull has always put out good work, but as a complete album I think this is her best since Broken English.   Jackson Browne’s Time the Conqueror was phenomenal, but before that album, ever since the 90’s, his records were too slick overall.  This new album is as good as his 70’s work, but updated for modern concerns.  I think this is U2’s best complete work since their 90’s trilogy, which has always been a favorite period of mine.  Although I really love Bryan Ferry’s Olympia,  I think this new one is front to back stronger.  I also think this is his best work since definitely the 80’s and probably even since Roxy Music’s Avalon.   As for Weezer, I felt that Hurley got a bum wrap, even if the production was a bit too slick, but this is without a doubt their best since their classic Pinkerton.  I would even put it ahead of the Green Album.  

Not only are these artists putting out vital work in relationship to their own careers, but I have trouble thinking of many new artists that have put out albums this year that are as front to back strong as these releases.  

I still need to get around to hearing Chuck D’s new album, as well as the Wu-Tang Clan’s.   I am also excited to hear the new AC/DC album that comes out next week. 

Bryan Ferry’s Avonmore

Bryan Ferry has a new album out called Avonmore.   The album sounds like somewhere in between Roxy Music’s Avalon and his 80’s output, however it does feature enough modern touches to no be stuck in the past.  I have always liked Bryan Ferry, from his early Roxy Music days until now.  Although I don’t think anyone thinks Bryan Ferry sings as well as Bryan Ferry does, which is actually part of his charm, his voice has always been distinctive enough to be interesting to me as a listener. 

I know that there are some of you who probably view his music as too slick, but if you think of music as being visual it has the ability to create it’s own world.  I can’t help but think of some kind of futuristic film noir when I put one of his records on. His music would fit perfectly in the Alan Rudolph film Trouble in Mind.  Even his lesser songs have interesting textures and atmosphere.   He has consistently done his own thing outside of the trends of the day.  Even during the glam era, Roxy Music were much stranger than most of the competition.  Their album For Your Pleasure is a beautifully unique oddity. 

If you are someone that likes latter period Roxy Music, or his early solo career, then this album will please you.  He is still out there painting his own universe, for which I am grateful. 

Weezer’s New Album and Cleopatra Video

Weezer have a new album out.  (It actually came out last month, but I’m only just getting around to listening to it.)  It is called Everything Will Be Alright in the End and it is the first produced by Rick Ocasek, of Cars fame, since The Green Album.  This actually may be their best record since The Green Album, and actually since Pinkerton.  I actually like most of their records, though I agree with most people that their first two records are their best.  Weezer are one of those bands that does things that I normally wouldn’t like, like making pop culture references in the lyrics, but are so good at what they do that I don’t care.  Rivers Cuomo is a melodic genius and this new album is front to back great melodies.  The production by Ocasek is also top notch.  The guitars have that same quality to them that they do on their first and third albums.  They are heavy, but they have so much texture to them that they are actually beautiful a good deal of the time.  Each guitar is like a little painting you can get lost in.  If you are a fan of Weezer you will definitely like this album.  If you are not, but like rock n roll with astounding pop melodies, then you should check them out as well.

Kiss Me Deadly

Billy Idol has a new record out.  A band I’ve really come to like over the last year is Idol’s first band Generation X.  At the time they existed they were accused as not being authentic, but the music speaks for itself.  Bob “Derwood” Andrews guitar playing is especially fantastic.  Also check out Andrews and his band Empire, who were only around briefly in the wake of Generation X, but influenced a great deal of the Washington D.C. punk and post-punk scene.

The Amazing Ted Hawkins

Tomorrow the Shinyribs band is going into the studio to record a song for an upcoming Ted Hawkins tribute record.  If you don’t know Ted Hawkins he is an absolutely amazing soul singer.  His first album, Watch Your Step, is especially breathtaking.  He had it all:  He had an incredible singing voice that was like Sam Cooke with more grit, he wrote uniquely interesting and personal songs, and he wrote beautiful uplifting melodies.  He could convey complex intense emotions, often with nothing more than his voice and guitar.  I’ve never seen anyone that has heard his records not like them.  He is one of the great largely unknown artists of this country.  Above is one of my favorite songs by him.

Generation Video and Lyrics

Kids were sent from heaven inside to lead you to the future
Wrap their eyes in blindfolds and still they’ll find their way
Blind their lives with pills and lies and still they find their vision
And soon they’ll leave you to your yesterday

And they’ll sing goodbye stars of Hitler
And goodbye bankers’ trust
Aquarius is shining and the sun is one of us
And me I don’t wanna go to the moon
I’m gonna leave that moon alone
I just want to dance with the Rosebud Sioux this summer
Yes, yes, yes

The media is saturated but the sweetgrass still grows tall
And Jesse John Blackbear talks to God in Cleveland, O-hi-yo
And Washington is joking but the Navajos are not
And the Senecas just arrived in Arizona.

I talked to seven congressmen, their ears were filled with gold
That their grandfathers had stolen out of the Black Hills
But it really doesn’t matter ’cause their children hear me well
And they will dream the dream my Mother sends to them.

Well I am on a Buffy Sainte-Marie kick again, I thought I would post this song, Generation.  This is from a collection of hers called The Pathfinder.  She is a warrior for peace and justice.